The right start
Our extensive road safety programs are just the start of life-long learning.
There’s a lot to learn about being a safe road user. In fact, to be a really safe driver requires life-long learning. Vehicles change, rules change, roads change, we change.
The earlier you start on being a safe, considerate road user – whether you are a pedestrian, bike rider or vehicle driver – the better it is for everyone. Being safety-focused doesn’t just benefit yourself, it makes the road safer for all users.
That’s at the heart of the RACT’s road safety program that we roll out in Tasmanian schools. It’s not just about rules and regulations: it’s about behaviour, it’s about sharing, it’s about being a good citizen. These are not just safety lessons, they are life lessons.
Every year the RACT’s two community co-ordinators deliver road safety education to almost 4000 students – from the Yippee program for year 3 and 4 students to the critical engagement with year 10 to 12 students who are on the cusp of learning to drive or are about to go for their licence test and those much-coveted P plates.
“Visiting Tasmanians from a young age really sows the seeds for them to make safe choices when they’re navigating the roads throughout further stages of their lives,” says RACT’s Community Co-ordinator Grace Ring.
“From starting out as a pedestrian, learning how to ride a bike near the road and eventually learning to drive a car, our programs are designed with the intention to instil safe behaviours for life,” she says.
Mary Gill, the RACT’s Launceston-based Community Co-ordinator, says young children pick up safe and unsafe behaviours very quickly. “I love hearing children tell me that they ‘buckle up’ and ‘don’t yell’ in the car. The language might be different between families, but the messages are the same: be a safe road user,” she says.
“Visiting schools, particularly rural and small schools, is so much fun. We not only get to meet the children and staff but get a snapshot of their community. I heard a mum in the street last week, talking to her infant children about holding hands near the road, and stopping to look and listen before crossing the road. They were very young, but I could hear them repeating her words and modelling the behaviour. It was great.”
The program is funded by the Department of State Growth and there is a second program targeting years 11 and 12 students in regional schools that is funded by the Motor Accident Insurance Board.
The challenge for Tasmania is that we cannot reach every school and every student. As a result, one of the key recommendations by the RACT to the Legislative Council Select Committee into Road Safety in Tasmania is that we establish road safety programs in all schools.
We have also called for a review of the programs to ensure we are delivering what is best practice.
As Grace says: “It’s so important to share a contemporary approach to learning about road safety. The effectiveness of our programs can ultimately contribute to the prevention of serious injuries, or worse.”